American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI
Author: Kate Winkler Dawson | Hardcover
From the acclaimed author of Death in the Air (Not since Devil in the White City has a book told such a harrowing tale--Douglas Preston) comes the riveting story of the birth of criminal investigation in the twentieth century.
Berkeley, California, 1933. In a lab filled with curiosities--beakers, microscopes, Bunsen burners, and hundreds upon hundreds of books--sat an investigator who would go on to crack at least two thousand cases in his forty-year career. Known as the American Sherlock Holmes, Edward Oscar Heinrich was one of America's greatest--and first--forensic scientists, with an uncanny knack for finding clues, establishing evidence, and deducing answers with a skill that seemed almost supernatural.
Heinrich was one of the nation's first expert witnesses, working in a time when the turmoil of Prohibition led to sensationalized crime reporting and only a small, systematic study of evidence. However with his brilliance, and commanding presence in both the courtroom and at crime scenes, Heinrich spearheaded the invention of a myriad of new forensic tools that police still use today, including blood spatter analysis, ballistics, lie-detector tests, and the use of fingerprints as courtroom evidence. His work, though not without its serious--some would say fatal--flaws, changed the course of American criminal investigation.
Based on years of research and thousands of never-before-published primary source materials, American Sherlock captures the life of the man who pioneered the science our legal system now relies upon--as well as the limits of those techniques and the very human experts who wield them.
"Edward Oscar Heinrich was one of America's earliest criminologists. He was also a meticulous record keeper, allowing Dawson to recreate his fascinating life story....Those interested in the development of modern forensics will be enthralled."-- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"While many true-crime books suffer from stale prose, Dawson's writing is remarkable in that it never uses the crutch of false suspense but also doesn't skimp on valuable details....An entertaining, absorbing combination of biography and true crime."-- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"A fascinating book worthy of being associated with the title's literary sleuth. Readers will want a follow-up so they can discover more of Heinrich's cases as told through Dawson's great storytelling. For fans of Michelle McNamara's I'll Be Gone in the Dark and other true crime works."-- Library Journal